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Can you remember the old horse drawn carts of the fifties? I realise they were in use well before that but my memories focus on those fantastic 1950s, the carts were magnificent, twisted poles at each corner like large Barley Sugar sticks and each side wonderfully hand painted, fantastic!.

This comes from a connection with the old funfairs where ice cream would also be sold. Remember that as well as having a family connection to an old Sheffield ice cream company (Cuneos), through the same family I also have a link with fairground showmen (Oadleys) and from it a long time interest in steam traction engines.

The twisted brass supports (your Barley Sugar sticks) were known to the showmen for some unknown reason as "Olivers", they were found on showmens traction engines, fairground organs and on many of the fairground rides such as gallopers, switchbacks, speedways, cakewalks etc. So to put them on ice cream carts would have come naturally.

Most showmen had their names on their rides and vehicles which were done by a signwriter, there was a particular style and colouring to it, usually known as "fairground art" which used a lot of fancy lining. Again this would adapt quite easily and naturally to ice cream carts.

Can I remember ice cream carts?

NO

But I have family relatives that can remember them and that have worked in some rather unusual ice cream vehicles when they were younger, - a motorbike and sidecar for example, serving ice cream out of a sidecar refrigeration unit, and in the 1960's my uncle famously sold ice cream from the "batmobile", - an ice cream van made up and painted to look like the batmobile from the Adam West / Burt Ward TV series, and playing the Batman TV theme instead of chimes.

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I suspect the name "OLIVERS" was just a play on words, "OLIVER TWIST" comes to mind.

This comes from a connection with the old funfairs where ice cream would also be sold. Remember that as well as having a family connection to an old Sheffield ice cream company (Cuneos), through the same family I also have a link with fairground showmen (Oadleys) and from it a long time interest in steam traction engines.

The twisted brass supports (your Barley Sugar sticks) were known to the showmen for some unknown reason as "Olivers", they were found on showmens traction engines, fairground organs and on many of the fairground rides such as gallopers, switchbacks, speedways, cakewalks etc. So to put them on ice cream carts would have come naturally.

Most showmen had their names on their rides and vehicles which were done by a signwriter, there was a particular style and colouring to it, usually known as "fairground art" which used a lot of fancy lining. Again this would adapt quite easily and naturally to ice cream carts.

Can I remember ice cream carts?

NO

But I have family relatives that can remember them and that have worked in some rather unusual ice cream vehicles when they were younger, - a motorbike and sidecar for example, serving ice cream out of a sidecar refrigeration unit, and in the 1960's my uncle famously sold ice cream from the "batmobile", - an ice cream van made up and painted to look like the batmobile from the Adam West / Burt Ward TV series, and playing the Batman TV theme instead of chimes.

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I suspect the name "OLIVERS" was just a play on words, "OLIVER TWIST" comes to mind.

I had never thought of that.

Showmen often used their own words and phrases amongst themselves, - a bit like Cockney Rhyming slang.

This could well be where "Olivers" got there name. They were first used in the late 19th century, when Dickens novel would have been popular so the name "Oliver Twist" would be well known.

However, many showmen from this period, being travellers, had little formal education and poor literacy skills.

I suspect that your reasoning to the derivation of the expression could well be correct.

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Question for Dave? When modern vans are on site, the engine I think is stopped, so what powers the refrigeration?

Not really thought of that one either Bayleaf.

I suspect that the refrigeration unit is electric and is powered from the battery / batteries, through an AC invertor if necessary which could then provide a standard mains 240V AC from 12V accumulators. When the engine is restarted the alternator would quickly recharge the batteries.

Further to this, if the refrigeration unit is fully frozen and stocked with frozen ice cream AND is well insulated, it will remain frozen for hours without thawing out / defrosting so would require no power for quite a while, possibly long enough to do say a 6 or 8 hour sales stint.

The original Italian ice cream men used chemical methods of refrigeration, the inner freezer compartment was immersed in an outer container which contained a mixture of ice and salt, - the ice is at 0 degC, but add salt to it and this c auses the ice to melt and the temperature to drop well below zero, -12 being typical and -23 being about the limit.

In her younger days my mum remembers being taking out by her brothers, then running Cuneos to sell ice cream in Derbyshire from a free standing and unpowered trailer. They left her there for her working shift and brought her home later, towing the ice cream trailer back as well. As the trailer was unpowered the ice cream would have had to be remain frozen for her entire shift.

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hilldweller

My wife's late grandfather used to make small quantities of ice cream in a tiny shed behind his home in a village near Bakewell.

He used to sell it locally. We still have a couple of those things for producing ice cream sandwiches and ejecting them.

My wife tells me he used to have large cubic chunks of a very cold substance delivered from Grindleford Station.

I assume this would be "Dry Ice", solid carbon dioxide, because even large chunks of ordinary ice would have melted during the train journey.

Apparently it came wrapped in newspaper.

HD

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My wife's late grandfather used to make small quantities of ice cream in a tiny shed behind his home in a village near Bakewell.

He used to sell it locally. We still have a couple of those things for producing ice cream sandwiches and ejecting them.

My wife tells me he used to have large cubic chunks of a very cold substance delivered from Grindleford Station.

I assume this would be "Dry Ice", solid carbon dioxide, because even large chunks of ordinary ice would have melted during the train journey.

Apparently it came wrapped in newspaper.

HD

Yes the modern, improved, version of chemical refrigeration which replaced ice / salt mixtures used dry ice (solid carbon dioxide). It has several advantages, firstly it is much colder (around -40 degC), secondly it sublimes, - changes directly from solid to gas without ever becoming a liquid, hence its name "dry ice" and its use in theatre and film for mist effects as it freezes the water vapour in the air as the gas is released at low temperature, in chemical refrigeration it sublimes completely leaving no waste residue to be disposed of, finally its heat capacity and thermal insulation properties mean that it warms up fairly slowly and so will refrigerate for a fair length of time before disappearing as vapour (hence you can have it delivered wrapped up in newspaper)

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